Bite-Size Comedies: À La Carte – Review
Thurs 12th, Sun 15th and Weds 18th December
Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm
£39 (All tickets include a 2 course meal)
Dearly beloved, being entertained in an interactive setting has precluded me from writing down any names or taking notes of any kind. It would have made me ripe fodder for getting picked on, though, since I was accused of not having a shag for four years by the bride (how did they know?) I needn’t have worried. What remains is a blur of men in tights, uniforms, a preying mantis erm, preying, and the rigid defence of gender roles comedically reinforced by a 1950s housewife.
Interactive Theatre International’s Bite-Size Comedies – À La Carte is many things; blurry often being the most prominent. Bookended by a wedding party, where the groom and bride (and her crazy family) get up to all sorts of hijinks in between their signature ten minute comedies, slipping in and out of character with the drop of a costume.
Dinner theatre is a notoriously tricky genre, one I wouldn’t even wish on smug, smirky-faced Damian Lewis – how do you keep the flow when someone keeps bringing out dishes? Or when your stage is littered with tables, chairs and full glasses of water? This cast has serious game.
But you may have spotted my use of the word blurry. The main criticism here (and it must be stated in fairness to the ticket buyer) doesn’t really lie with the actors, whose histrionics were understandable and laughable, despite often creating more bemusement than guffaws. But being an actor is a hard enough slog without know-it-alls like me yammering on about ‘narrative’ and ‘diction’ or ‘regional accents’. The fault here lies firmly with the material, which lacked the build-up and punch needed to sustain the laughs.
Still, it has all the right, ahem, ingredients to be a highly entertaining evening (I’m not going to talk about the food. I’m guessing they didn’t make it themselves. It’s not their fault I almost ate the paper on the bottom of my wedding cake.) With the right audience, Bite-Size Comedies – À La Carte would be a delightful little pudding of a holiday treat, recommended for the thinking-office worker’s Christmas party. Just watch out for the mother of the bride.
There’s probably nothing better than eating. (Except laughing; laughing’s my favourite). Having sussed this, Interactive Theatre International, in collaboration with Bite-Size Plays, launched the first of an enticing menu of short plays, designed to entertain while you dine. Following the resounding success of the ‘Big Bite-Size Vintage Tea Party’ and the ‘Big Bite-Size Breakfast’, Fringe darlings and oxymoron enthusiasts White Room Theatre have concocted another delicious offering ‒ ‘Bite-Size Comedies: À La Carte’. And we’re really privileged, as Brighton is the one and only logical choice for À La Carte’s international premiere.
During this ‘smorgasbord of witty writing’ (Broadway Baby) audience members peruse a menu of plays and pick their laugh-filled poison à la carte. Each show is attention span friendly at under 15 minutes, while you fill up on chicken and mushroom pie, fish and chips or, because we’re in Brighton, gluten-free risotto. A word of warning: interactivity is possible, nay probable.
‘Bite-Size Comedies: À La Carte’ offers up a true feast for the senses, a buffet bonanza, giggles with a side of humiliation. I’m running out of foodie phrases but you get the picture. If your plans for December mostly include eating cold mince pies in your PJs in front of Downton reruns, get yourself sociable by throwing on your gladrags and getting yourself down to The Thistle for some hearty, satisfying dinner theatre, belly laughs gratis. Let’s hope they’re working on ‘Bite-Size Cocktail Hour’ next…